So here I am, nine mornings after I rushed headlong into the Big F word and I have survived to tell the tale. The truth is that there is no big deal about the rendezvous with the Big F. For days, you hold your breath in anticipation, tiptoe around the possibilities of what will be, prepare yourself mentally and physically but when it happens, it just does. The earth does not move under your feet, the sky does not light up with streaks of lightning and the temple bells don’t go off like they do in Bollywood movies. And when you wake up the next morning, you still are the same old you.
And yet, my fiftieth birthday was special in ways I cannot explain but can only appreciate. You know it is a special occasion when your spouse makes excuses galore to keep awake till the clock strikes midnight and then surprises you with a diamond ring to mark your fiftieth birthday. The ring is lovely but what is special for me is the knowledge that my forever shy and reserved spouse actually made the effort to walk into a jewellery showroom and ask a salesperson for a diamond ring for his wife. Coming from a man who hides behind the newspaper the entire time till the maid cleans the house and leaves on weekends, this was a great big step.
“The idea of shopping was scary so I went online and learnt a few things about diamonds before heading for the store. That way I could finish the deal in 20 minutes flat,” he told me sheepishly later that night as we lolled on the sofa eating chocolate and laughing about his great jewellery buying adventure.
The morning after is special because you are treated to your favourite cup of ginger tea and the newspaper while the spouse rustles up a cracking breakfast. Sounds mundane and boring? Not if you have a routine where spouse is out of the house first thing in the morning and you hit your work desk at 9am. When you get to age 50 you appreciate the smaller, ordinary, things because somehow, miraculously, you begin to realise that it is life’s little moments that make for a grand, happy, big picture and a bag full of memories for your old age.
My fiftieth birthday was perfect in every which way beginning with the phone call from the kid sister and her darling husband encouraging me to go splash out on some dresses that I have been fantasising about but never dared to buy. “You only turn fifty once and this is our treat,” they chorused. Not that I need much persuasion after that…
Later that evening, we drive down to Mumbai where fresh surprises and small acts of kindness and thoughtfulness causes me to tear up. I walk into my sister’s house and there is mom, all giggly and happy because her daughter is fifty and she has a precious something to give me. The little niece has put up balloons and festoons everywhere and our daughter has baked the perfect cake to mark the day. There it is, making eyes at me, a dazzling beauty, succulent with raspberry coulis, divine passion fruit curd, almond sponge, all of it pulled together with sumptuous lashings of molten white chocolate. We are twin souls, the daughter and I and believe in giving in to all things decadent when it comes to dessert.
Dinner that evening was at K&K, the elegant Indian cuisine restaurant at the ITC Grand Central, where we spent a memorable evening relishing an amazing array of succulent kebabs, authentic curries, biryanis, the iconic Dal Bukhara and desserts to die for. There was magic in the air of a different sort, brought about as much by the Moet & Chandon (that the ITC brought out to mark my special day) as by the knowledge that I am surrounded by a family who loves me unconditionally, warts, moles, menopausal temper tantrums and all. I could not have asked for a better birthday gift than all the love that the universe gifted me that evening.
“So, how does it feel to be fifty? a friend asked me the other day.
“Older, not necessarily wiser, but happier,” I said to her. And never mind the jelly that is now jiggling on my belly from the unabashed revelry the week before….
With this, the Feisty@Fifty series concludes. Look out for an all-new column by her on Pune365 soon.
You can reach her on email@example.com or her twitter handle@sudhamenon2006
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